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Always be Closing…

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Hey, Camp Parents!

Today’s post concludes our July Tips and Advice series about Opening Day, Visiting Day, and Closing Day at summer camp. Using the endlessly helpful wisdom that Chris Thurber and Jon Malinowski put down in ‘The Summer Camp Handbook’, today I’m sharing tips on achieving a successful Closing Day. Check out these four great tips about things to do on the last day of camp:

First and foremost, know when Closing Day is! Unfortunately, there have been parents who have gotten confused about which day is Closing Day. Mark the date and mark it well. Also, punctuality is a big deal. It’s best not to give a single specific time that you’ll be there, but more of a window (from 9:30 – 10:30). You don’t want to be much later and have your kid worry, nor do you want to arrive too early and not be able to find your kid because they’re off running around, finishing some last-minute job.

Plan to spend a little time at camp on Closing Day. You’ll have administrative chores like closing accounts, signing out, talking with the cabin leader, possibly checking with the medical staff, and combing through the lost-and-found. Most important, many kids want to share their positive experiences, give their parents a tour of camp, and introduce new friends. Yet, some kids just want to get in the car and go (even though they had a great time).

What to expect
Kids’ reactions to being reunited with their parents are tough to predict. All kids are different but most fall into categories of four typical reactions: 1) Most kids want to tell you anything and everything that happened at camp. 2.) Some kids are quiet, feeling a little sad to leave camp and want to leave quickly to get it over with. 3.) Still, other kids tear up at the close of camp and prefer to linger a while. 4.) And our last category likes to pick out the most dramatic thing that happened at camp and maybe exaggerate stories a tad. The main point is that you should be ready to play the day by ear since you won’t know what to expect.

Regardless of how your child acts on Closing Day, it’s always good to get an experienced adult perspective. The cabin leader is the best place to start. These conversations can be insightful, but you may have to probe to get the information you want. Most cabin leaders tend to smile a lot and tell parents that the session went well. Part of their job is to have a positive attitude. Nevertheless, all cabin leaders mentally evaluate the kids with whom they work. How could they not have some opinions based on a week or more of living with your child? Ask some questions like these to get the answers you want:

•    What did you enjoy most about the session?
•    What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
•    How did my child interact with the other kids? What kind of strengths and weaknesses did you pick up on?
•    Which activities did my child like best?
•    Were there any discipline problems with my child? How were they handled?
•    Was my child polite?
•    Is there anything to work on with my child before next year at camp?

Make Closing Day a warm, relaxed reunion and continue getting the most of your child’s summer camp experience right down to the very end. Have fun bringing your kid back home and, as always, thanks for reading.


- John

Get your own copy of The Summer Camp Handbook for a wealth of information about sending your kid to camp the right way!


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